Microsoft has released more than 1,500 of its 3D emoji designs as open source, which could be useful for incorporating into apps, art projects, and more.


Microsoft has made most of its emoji library open source. Since the company can’t resist a rebrand, it refreshed its emoji library last year and has now entrusted most Figma and GitHub results. In total, there are over 1,500 (1,538 to be precise) options for users to express themselves.

In a blog post, Jon Friedman, corporate vice president for design and research at Microsoft, announced the decision.

Quote Sent by Jon Friedman

Whatever the moment, there is an emoji for a. Overcoming language barriers, communicating nuance or humor, softening comments that might otherwise sound harsh – if the whole world was a digital stage, 21 playerse shekel are emoji.

These essential communicators have become so important that we refreshed our entire emoji library last year as part of an ongoing effort to make Microsoft 365 a more expressive ecosystem than ever. But what’s better than a dynamic range of refreshed emoji? A dynamic range of open-source emoji*!

Starting today, you can open most of our emoji library on Figma and on Github 🥳. There are a few exceptions (small print is below), but there’s a real assortment of emoji you can build with (and build on).

Each open-source emoji has three iterations: the fully 3D version, complete with texture and color gradients; a flat “color” version that retains the base color but removes textures and gradients (these are the ones you’ll see if you open the Windows 11 emoji menu); and a monochromatic “high contrast” version. All emoji are made available as .svg vector graphics files so they can be resized and otherwise manipulated without any loss of quality.

There are only a few designs from Microsoft that aren’t available in open source, one of which is the paper clip that looks like Clippy (the character is apparently copyrighted). A few other emoji have been excluded because Microsoft’s releases exclude the Windows logo. The same goes for country flags, emojis of video games and technologists.

Quote Sent by Jon Friedman

I don’t want to sugarcoat it, so let’s start with the bad news: Clippy is not included in the open source emoji set 😩. I know, and I personally would like to, but because of legalese, we can’t open trademarks. For the same reason, our country flags, video games and tech emoji will also not be available.

However, there is a range on offer, with some featuring a variety of skin tones to promote inclusion while others are there to express emotion, pure and simple. However, as a recent report from Slack and Duolingo demonstrated, be careful how you use them. It may not mean what you think it means.

In total, Microsoft spent over a year ensuring its emoji could be used in just about any format, be it SVG, PNG or JPG. A vector, flat, monochrome version of each has been created.

Quote Sent by Jon Friedman

When we talk about large-scale collaboration, we mean it at the most global level. An amazing team of designers and engineers spent over a year ensuring our emoji could be used in any format needed. Just as subtitles are available in different languages, emoji should exist as SVG, PNG, and JPG files to allow for true versatility. And for each of them, a vector, flat, monochrome version should be created for scalability and flexibility.

It’s no small feat when it comes to 1,538 emoji, but we wanted to make sure that every creator could create experiences that meet the needs of their community. This particularly applies to developers and audiences that have not been included historically. A hairstyle, an afro, a sari – allowing the majority of the world (i.e. blacks and browns) to express themselves however they want, who they want and when they want, it is not only powerful , but necessary.

Take skin tone, for example. Along with emoji, our industry celebrated inclusion when the prescribed yellow Unicode skin tone was expanded to include all six skin tones of the Fitzpatrick scale. Developed in 1975 by dermatologist Thomas Fitzpatrick, the scale classifies skin tone according to its tolerance to the sun. It was eventually applied to emoji as a way to create inclusion and even as a great first step, it’s still normative. It says here that you adhere to what we consider to be a useful inclusive spectrum. Isn’t it better to create supporting tools and experiences that allow people to design their own spectrum*?

Getting off the Fitzpatrick scale was one of our motivations for releasing our open source Fluent emoji, but it goes far beyond physical attributes. Culture, religion, sexual orientation, politics, food – no one knows your contexts and realities better than you and given the importance of emoji in the realm of digital expression, we wanted to make them widely available.

Empowering creators to create great experiences is something Microsoft is deeply committed to. Our recently previewed express design apps bring beautiful design to scenarios with little to no code, and stay tuned for more designer experiences rolling out this fall.

It’s perhaps a shame that the country flags were omitted or that Microsoft didn’t replace its trademark Clippy with something a bit more generic, but the library is otherwise extensive.

Jon Friedman extolled the virtues of the open source approach and noted that business processes evolved like the firm, hierarchical standards that once defined product development. This is what makes the open source UX culture so interesting and so aligns with our own design philosophy of open source design, he continued.

I have seen with my own eyes how this has transformed our culture and our products.

Not all. While Microsoft’s sharing of over 1,500 Fluent emojis is one thing, we can only hope it might consider taking similar action with some of its other products which would most certainly benefit from a change in philosophy from design . But as Friedman observed of Microsoft’s trade secrets: “We can’t get the lawyers out of the business altogether.” It is therefore unlikely to see the situation evolve in this way.

Sources: Microsoft, GitHub

And you?

Do you ever use emoji in your chats? what frequency?
What do you think of Microsoft’s choice to publish these emoji in open source?
An illustration of Microsoft’s interest in open source? To what extent?

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